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Published: 2017/07/31

Phish’s Baker’s Dozen: Jim-Themed Songs and Return of "Harpua"

Phish’s Baker’s Dozen run continued with “Jimmie” night as fans were given donuts with sprinkles (called “jimmies”) upon entry. Of course, as “Jimmie” not only references the main narration of one of the band’s biggest rarity “Harpua,” it could also lend itself to a number of Phish’s covers by artists named Jimmie (or Jimi).

The band delivered a show scattered with references to the night’s theme but not before opening with a tight, focused “Curtain With,” played for the first time on this tour. Trey Anastasio then began the appropriate “Runaway Jim” with the guitarist and crowd leaning into the song’s lyrics.

From there, Mike Gordon led the quartet on the dark Big Boat cut “Waking Up Dead” before Page McConnell signaled the first “Esther” since August 9, 2015. McConnell then led the band on the Big Boat rocker “Home” before a cool down moment in “Brian and Robert” and the bluegrass-tinged “Nellie Kane.”

The night’s theme emerged again when Anastasio called for “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent,” also not played since August 9, 2015. In the narration as a transition to “Fly Famous Mockingbird,” Anastasio quoted “The Squirming Coil” (“Jimmy holds the Tannis root”) and also noted, “I’ll give you another hint: The walrus was Jimmy.” A highly energetic and frantic “David Bowie” brought the set to a close.

The second set opened with McConnell launching into The Who’s “Drowned,” a sprawling, cohesive 23-minute jam that saw each band member take the lead at various points as the jam descended into a lengthy ambient section before coming to a conclusion. Anastasio then opted for “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing,” a song rarely jammed in the modern era. This version stretched to 18 minutes featuring a weird, dark complement to the previous smooth “Drowned” jam.

From there, Phish unveiled “Harpua” for the first time since Dick’s 2015. Instead of the traditional narration, two chairs were set up in the front of the stage for Anastasio and Gordon, who along with McConnell and Jon Fishman, discussed the makeup of the universe in a barbershop-style debate. The lengthy discussion came to the conclusion that the universe is in fact shaped like a donut.

McConnell and Gordon then went into their regular back and forth before the full band came in to end the song, transitioning slowly to “2001” that started with Anastasio quoting “Harpua” by whispering “a dog” a number of times. The set closed with an anthemic “Golgi Apparatus” and the acapella “In the Good Old Summertime.”

Phish then returned to pay tribute to the other “Jimmie” mentioned, Jimi Hendrix. While the group has covered songs like “Fire” and “Bold As Love” over the years, the band opted for a debut of Hendrix’s “The Wind Cries Mary” as one last surprise. Anastasio donned a shirt referencing the band’s standout Jam-Filled show saying “Is This Still Lawn Boy?” as he played the Hendrix tune.

Phish return to the stage on Tuesday night.

Here’s a look at the setlist:

Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

Set I: The Curtain With > Runaway Jim, Waking Up Dead, Esther, Home, Brian and Robert, Nellie Kane, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird > David Bowie

Set II: Drowned, A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing, Harpua > 2001 > Golgi Apparatus, In the Good Old Summertime

Enc: The Wind Cries Mary

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